Farm Bureau awards great books for kids

“The Guardian Team: On the Job with Rena and Roohas” been named the recipient of the 2013 Ohio Farm Bureau Award for Children’s Literature. Author Cat Urbigkit was honored for the book’s depiction of agriculture and contribution to American literature.

Shepherds have used dogs to protect livestock for thousands of years. But burros also have a natural instinct to protect, which makes them perfect guardian animals as well. The book introduces children to a super dog and burro team at work on a sheep ranch in Wyoming.

The animals have a close connection with the sheep they protect, but it takes time and effort for Rena and Roo to grow to trust one another.

In this book, Cat Urbigkit uses simple informative text and eye catching photographs to show how Rena and Roo develop into guardian animals.

The annual selection is made by members of the communications committee of the Ohio Farm Bureau’s board of trustees who review a list of nominees. The book was also selected as the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture’s book of the year.

The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture has produced an educator’s guide as a companion piece to the book; the guide takes elementary students through various learning activities. These and other educational resources are available at under “Resource Orders” and searching for “The Guardian Team.”

Ohio Farm Bureau members have placed high value on identifying great children’s literature that will interest young people in agriculture. Not just in 2013, but for many years. Here are some recent years’ winners.

The 2012 recipient was “How Did That Get In My Lunchbox? The Story of Food.” The book connects children to the good in their lunchboxes by showing the effort and skill needed to produce foods such as bread, cheese, apple juice and chocolate chip cookies.

This brightly illustrated book is written for ages 5-8 reading level. Author Chris Butterworth introduces children to the concepts of natural, capital and human resources, often among the first set of economic concepts that children are expected to learn in the primary grades. Readers are also introduced to the basic food groups and given tips on healthful eating.

Children can relate firsthand to these ideas when they think about the roles of farms, food processing facilities, and transportation networks in producing their lunchbox foods.

In 2011, it was “Seed Soil Sun Earth’s Recipe for Food,” by Chris Peterson. This book highlights the process by which air and water combine with seed, soil and sun to create nearly all the food we eat.

Written by twins Rianna and Sheridan Chaney, the 2010 winner “Mini Milk Maids on the Moove” is about their personal experience in the dairy industry.

The 2009 winner was a book written by Peggy Thompson, “Farmer George Plants a Nation.” This story focuses on George Washington’s life as a farmer, inventor and scientist.

These books, others, and many resources are also available at the Ohio Farm Bureau website Education and Resource tab, “For Teachers.”

Mary Smallsreed is a member of Trumbull County Farm Bureau and grew up on a family dairy farm in northeast Ohio.